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UAL Research Online

Collecting Practices and Autobiography: The Role of Objects in the Mnemonic Landscape of Nation

Dyson, Lynda (2002) Collecting Practices and Autobiography: The Role of Objects in the Mnemonic Landscape of Nation. In: Temporalities: Autobiography and Everyday Life. Manchester University Press, pp. 128-140. ISBN 071905575X

Type of Research: Book Section
Creators: Dyson, Lynda

This chapter draws on the emerging anthropology of everyday artefacts to explore the way objects – furniture, ornaments, toys and so on – are appropriated and domesticated as positional goods, defining the domain of the subject in relation to class, gender and a cultural specific sense of place and history. The chapter appears in an edited collection on autobiography and postmodernity edited by Jan Campbell and Janet Harbord.

The collection as a whole represents an innovative attempt to rethink the practice of cultural studies through developing an intellectual encounter with a variety of other disciplines including anthropology, philosophy and, in the case of the researcher, museumology.

The researcher’s chapter begins by exploring the constitutive role played by institutionalised sites of memory in re-presenting everyday objects as culturally meaningful souvenirs that can provide tangible material for the shaping of narratives of belonging. Having established a critically cogent foundation from which to construct such a perspective, the focus moves to a specific case study to demonstrate how this theoretically-informed approached can be applied in practice.

The case study chosen is a collection of ‘ordinary things’ that are displayed in the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa. This selection and representation of objects is identified for the visitor under the rubric of ‘Kiwiana’. New Zealand, in parallel with countries that find themselves in similar circumstances at a similar time, is undergoing a sustained process of self-examination in an effort to reconcile its highly contested colonial legacy. In this context, the objects in the collection can, in a sense, be understood as part for a process of gathering material for a new narrative of belonging aimed at the nation’s white majority.

Official Website: http://www.ubcpress.ubc.ca/search/title_book.asp?BookID=2929
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: autobiography, museology, material culture studies
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Manchester University Press
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Research Centres/Networks > Transnational Art Identity and Nation (TrAIN)
Date: 2002
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2009 12:28
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2012 14:58
Item ID: 1277
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1277

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